• Expedition 54 flight engineer Scott Tingle of NASA, flight engineer Norishige Kanai of Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, and Soyuz Commander Anton Shkaplerov of the Russian space agency Roscosmos wave farewell prior to boarding the Soyuz MS-07 for launch Sunday, Dec. 17, 2017 at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. Tingle, Norishige Kanai, and Shkaplerov will spend the next five months living and working aboard the International Space Station. Credits: NASA/Joel Kowsky
  • Expedition 54 crew members Scott Tingle of NASA, Anton Shkaplerov of the Russian space agency Roscosmos, and Norishige Kanai of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency launched to the International Space Station at 2:21 a.m. EST Dec. 17, 2017 (1:21 p.m. Baikonur time), from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. Credits:NASA/Joel Kowsky
  • Three Expedition 54 crew members blasted off Sunday Dec. 17, 2017 at 2:21 a.m. EST on a two-day trip the space station. Credit: NASA/Joel Kowsly
  • Dec. 19, 2017: International Space Station Configuration. Five spaceships are parked at the space station including the SpaceX Dragon space freighter, the Progress 67 and 68 resupply ships and the Soyuz MS-06 and MS-07 crew ships. Credit: NASA
  • The newly-expanded Expedition 54 crew gathers in the Zvezda service module for ceremonial congratulations from family and mission officials. Credit: NASA TV
  • The Soyuz MS-07 crew comprising Japanese astronaut Norishige Kanai, Russian commander Anton Shkaplerov and NASA flight engineer Scott Tingle. Credit: NASA/Roscosmos/JAXA

Multinational Trio Launches on Soyuz and Docks at International Space Station

Ken Kremer -- Space UpClose -- 19 Dec 2017

A fresh multinational trio of astronauts and cosmonauts who successfully launched aboard a Russian Soyuz capsule Sunday, Dec. 17, from bone chilling Kazakhstan safely arrived and docked at the International Space Station (ISS) early this morning as planned, Tuesday, Dec. 19 – thus repopulating the outpost to its full crew complement of six space flyers.

On board the Soyuz MS-07 spacecraft were Anton Shkaplerov of the Russian space agency Roscosmos, Norishige Kanai of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) and NASA’s Scott Tingle.

The there crewmates hailing from Russia, Japan and the United States, blasted off in the early morning hours Sunday from Russia’s Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 2:21 a.m. EST Sunday (1:21 p.m. Baikonur time) bound for their exciting and busy long term voyage to the ISS.

They launched atop a Russian Soyuz rocket into the plane of the space stations orbit from the bone-chilling temperatures of Kazahkstan at launch time Sunday, from the same pad as Yuri Gagarin on humanity’s first manned space flight.

Shkaplerov is the Soyuz MS-07 commander and veteran of two prior long term ISS flights. Tingle and Kanai are rookie space flyers on their first space missions.

After a two-day chase through space and carefully choreographed series of thruster firings the Soyuz MS-07 capsule and three-man crew arrived in the vicinity of the massive orbiting outpost.

Both the Soyuz launch and docking events were carried live on NASA TV with additionallive coverage by the agency’s website.

The Soyuz spacecraft and crew docked at the Earth-facing port of the space station’s Russian Rassvet module at at 3:39 a.m. EST Tuesday, Dec. 19 while both spacecraft were flying about 250 miles (400 km) over the southern coast of Italy commonly referredto as the “boot.”

The arrival of Tingle, Shkaplerov and Kanai restores the station's crew complement to a full strength of six people.

The new trio join ISS Commander Alexander Misurkin of Roscosmos and crewmates Mark Vande Hei and Joe Acaba of NASA.

Altogether they comprise the Expedition 54 crew increment on the ISS.

About two hours after docking and conducting standard pressurization and leak checks the two crews opened the hatches between the two spacecraft and floated in zero-g through the docking tunnel into the huge million pound orbiting complex.

Hatches between the Soyuz spacecraft and the orbiting laboratory were officially opened at 5:55 a.m. EST today.

Tingle, Shkaplerov and Kanai replace the just departed three-man Soyuz MS-05 crew comprising commander Sergey Ryazanskiy, NASA flight engineer Randy Bresnik and European Space Agency astronaut Paolo Nespoli.

Ryazanskiy, Bresnik and Nespoli returned to Earth last Thursday, Dec. 14, on the SoyuzMS-5 spacecraft after a 139-day mission and parachute assisted safe landing on the frigid steppes of Kazakhstan.

Vande Hei, Acaba and Misurkin are scheduled to remain aboard the station until February 2018, and Tingle, Shkaplerov and Kanai are scheduled to return to Earth next June for a recently extended mission according to newly revised planning.

The new crews mission has been extended roughly two months from April to June 2018.

They will spend about six months working on over 300 ongoing science investigations indiverse fields such as biology, medicine, plant growth, Earth science, human research, physical sciences and technology development, rodent research, human physiology andmuch more.

The safe arrival of the MS-07 crew continues NASA’s “long-term increase in crew size on the U.S. segment from three to four, allowing NASA to maximize time dedicated to research in the unique microgravity environment,” said the agency.

For the time being Russia has decreased its station crew from three to two. NASA took advantage of the opportunity via a contract with Boeing to raise the U.S. segment number of astronauts aboard to four. And that has resulted in a significant fortification of time devoted to science earlier than planned by NASA before the start of US commercial crew missions as soon as the second half of 2018.

“Highlights of upcoming investigations include demonstrating the benefits ofmanufacturing fiber optic filamentsin a microgravity environment, a new study looking at structures that are vital to thedesign of advanced optical materials and electronic devicesand examining adrug compound and drug delivery systemdesigned to combat muscular breakdown in space or during other prolonged periods of disuse, such as extended bed rest on Earth.”

Read our SpaceX Dragon CRS-13 and Orbital ATK Cygnus OA-8 cargo mission stories here at Space UpClose for further details about mission operations and ongoing science investigations.

Stay tuned here for Ken's continuing Earth and Planetary science and Human Spaceflight news.